Courses: First-Year Seminars

Many First-Year Seminars are offered every Fall semester for incoming students.  All of our First-Year Seminar courses are open to every incoming, first-year student,* though students who wish to enroll in RHET 195 should follow guidelines regarding Directed Self-Placement.  Transfer students may enroll in one of our Transfer-Year Seminars.  RHET 195 and RHET 295 courses are typically the only First-Year Seminar classes offered in Spring semesters.

Every incoming student may only enroll in one First-Year Seminar, so that this opportunity is available to all.  Those who inadvertently enroll in multiple FYS courses will be asked to remove one from their schedule and enroll in a different available course.  Questions can be addressed to the Associate Dean for Arts & Humanities, Jeffrey Paris.

(* Eligible students may sometimes be prevented from registering online in a First-Year Seminar due to accumulated course credits from AP or IB or community college courses, along with credits from their first semester at USF if you are trying to enroll in a Spring semester course.  Even if you have in excess of 32 credits applied toward graduation, you may still be able to enroll in a FYS course.  If you think this applies to you, please contact your Webtrack Adviser or your CASA Academic Success Coach <>.)


Fall 2022 Courses

Core A1 - Public Speaking

RHET 195-01 Sports Talk

CRN # 40077
John Ryan
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 10:30-11:35 a.m.

Sports Talk uses the world of sports to investigate public discourse. You will use the rhetoric of athletes, coaches, owners, and fans as a springboard into the study of public speech and public communication. The class emphasizes a critical approach as students immerse themselves in the history of sports communication from the early twentieth century up to the present. Students will have the opportunity to explore the historical and social changes that have been inspired by our national fascination with sports. We will visit local venues and examine what these facilities say about our priorities and our values.

Core A2 - Rhetoric and Composition

The RHET 195 First Year Seminars below are only available to students who have placed into RHET 195 through Directed Self Placement (DSP).  If you placed into a different RHET course (e.g. RHET 110, RHET 130, etc.), you should register for that class, and choose a different First-Year Seminar.

RHET 195-02 New Media/You Media

CRN # 40078
Phil Choong
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 2:15–3:20 p.m.

Do you change how you write when you switch from the pencil to the pixel, from the page to the screen? Do you feel like an “author” when you post on Facebook? When you  retweet? Are you reader or a writer on Tumblr, Reddit, or Snapchat? What is your role in  social media: are you a producer or a consumer of text? Or are you a “produser”? These  are the questions we will take up in this seminar as we try out a range of electronic writing tools and explore the role of digital spaces for writing and reading (in San Francisco/the Bay Area and around the world). These experiences will be supported by reading books and websites that help us critique and analyze digital rhetoric and notions of what it means to “be a writer” in the Web 2.0 era.

RHET 195-06 Language and Power

CRN # 40080
Brian Dempster
Tues. & Thu. 12:45–2:30 p.m.

Language and Power examines rhetorics of nationalism and social justice--and the ways in which language and power are entwined. We will analyze a diverse range of texts (nonfiction essays, poems, stories, films, laws, photographs, music): who writes these texts, for what purpose, and with what agenda? How do we better understand past events through the lens of historical context and also current perspectives? How does inclusion/exclusion of certain viewpoints and voices impact how we view history and the collective narrative of America? With a focus on how rhetoric and power structures have affected (and continues to affect) Asian Pacific Americans and other marginalized groups, we will link these discourses through an intersectional framework and see how writers, artists, and everyday people address issues of cultural (mis)representation and advocate for social justice. Together with guest speakers and virtual trips to local sites, we will critically discuss language and power, interact with primary and secondary sources, and craft papers in response to these course themes.

RHET 195-05 Women, Rhetoric, & Power

CRN # 42146
Melisa Garcia
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 2:15–3:20 p.m.

What does it mean to speak? What does it mean to be silent? What does it mean to be heard? From antiquity to present day, women orators, writers, and rhetoricians have demonstrated a particular interest in addressing these questions. In this course, we will examine the work of numerous women rhetoricians, poets, and writers to explore how they have communicated their arguments in the political, artistic, and personal spheres. So too, we will explore the work of male thinkers and writers who have used “ventriloquism” to experiment with the liberated female voice. Finally, we will evaluate whether the rhetorical practices of women have something to lend to the broader social justice movement in its attempt to ensure rights for those who historically have been rendered voiceless and powerless.

Core C1 - Literature

CHIN 195-01 Global Chinese Cinema

CRN # 40624
Wei Yang Menkus
Tue. & Thu. 9:55–11:40 a.m.

This course examines Chinese cinema in a global age, with particular focus on the transnational contexts of production, circulation and reception. Charting the cinematic developments from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora since the 1970s, we investigate the role of film in constructing the notion of nation-state, and explore the shifting dynamics between culture, politics, and economics within historical and geopolitical discourses. Class discussion, following the weekly screening, will revolve around themes, stylistics, and genres as represented through film.

CMPL 195-01 Literature of the Child

CRN #40469
Shawn Doubiago
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 10:30–11:35 a.m.

What is it about childhood that leaves such an indelible mark on our lives? And how has growing up been perceived in other eras and cultures? In this course you are invited to consider these questions and more by examining literary representations of childhood in various genres such as poems, short stories, plays, the Bildungsroman, the memoir, and novels. In our quest to better understand the role childhood plays in our lives, and the ways childhood has been perceived historically, we will also examine  parent-child relationships, family dynamics, society, culture, history, trauma, and theories that affect our early experiences. We will trace these issues in global literature, film, and culture. [Also meets Cultural Diversity Core Requirement]

ENGL 195-01 Science Fiction

CRN #40475
Patrick Schwieterman
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 10:30–11:35 a.m.

Science fiction has long been seen as an “escapist” literature that actively avoids engagement with the most pressing concerns of contemporary life. However, the futuristic or extra-planetary settings of the genre actually offer writers opportunities to explore abiding concerns through “thought experiments” that heighten the tensions implicit in a given topic. For example, Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? explores the nature of humanness through the dilemma of a police detective charged with hunting down and “retiring” androids who are identical to humans in nearly every respect. Besides Dick’s work, the syllabus will feature texts by Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Pat Murphy, Naomi Kritzer, Mercurio D. Rivera, James Patrick Kelly, Ian McDonald, and others. We’ll also make trips off-campus for movies and readings by science fiction authors.

ENGL 195-02 Global Literatures: Magical Realisms

Ana Rojas
Tue. & Thu. 9:55–11:40 a.m

“Mi problema más importante era destruir la línea de demarcación que separa lo que parece real de lo que parece fantástico / My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separate what seems real from what seems fantastic.”  —  Gabriel García Márquez
One of the pleasures of literature is the way that it can create an immersive realm for readers, one that stimulates the imagination and encourages us to see the world in new ways. Magical Realism is a genre of literature that blends the realism of our day to day life with surreal and fantastic elements. A style of writing chiefly associated with Latin American literature, its foundations and its influence can be found the world over; it is a literature that is deeply bound to the postcolonial experience, providing a means for challenging systems of authority and power by calling into question the very nature of reality. This course will give students the opportunity to read a variety of magical realist fiction, and students will be able to discuss and explore the ways in which literature can impact our lives and society at large. As a First-Year Seminar, this class is designed not only to fulfill your Core C1 Literature requirement, but also to help you as you transition to college and to that end, this class also focuses on strategies for being a successful college student.

JAPN 195-01 Reading Ōsaka from San Francisco

CRN # 40669
Stephen Roddy
Tues. & Thu. 12:45–2:30 p.m.

Ōsaka is a vibrant, cosmopolitan port city located in the heart of the Kansai region, near the ancient capitals of Kyōto and Nara.  It is also a sister city of San Francisco, and shares with it a long history of entrepreneurship and cultural innovation.  This course introduces writers like Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, Kawabata Yasunari, Tsutsui Yoshitaka, and Kōno Taeko, whose works have documented the amazing evolution of Kansai and Japan as a whole over the past century.  We will also read about popular culture like the manga and anime of Tezuka Osamu, and the Takarazuka all-female musical theatre. In addition, field trips to Japan Town, just a ten-minute bus ride from campus, will give us a sense of San Francisco’s important place in the history of U.S.-Japan relations.

Core D1 - Philosophy

PHIL 195-01 What is Wisdom?

CRN # 42601
Michael Torre
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 9:15-10:30 a.m.

Description TBD.  [Cross listed with PHIL 295-01 #40981.]

Core D2 - Theology & Religious Studies

THRS 195-01 Transcendence in Film & Fiction

CRN # 41104
Aysha Hidayatullah
Tue. & Thu. 2:40–4:25 p.m.

What could punk rockers, feminists, superheroes, and Malcolm X all have in common? Islam! In mainstream America Muslims are often perceived as excessively or fanatically “religious” – a perception driven by a misunderstanding of the concept of transcendence in Islam. To remedy this misunderstanding, we will watch films and read fiction that will help us examine Muslims’ search for transcendence, including in contexts of marginality and revolutionary protest. Texts will include the Muslim punk novel The Taqwacores and the superhero comic book series The 99; films will include Enemy of the Reich and Malcolm X. We will ask: how do Muslims live fully in this world, immersed in the struggles of worldly life and earthly justice, but through a consciousness of the otherworldly and unfathomable? How does everyday life become the conduit for participating in ultimate reality?

Core D3 - Ethics

PHIL 195-02 When East Meets West

CRN # 40954
David Kim
Tues. & Thu. 12:45–2:30 p.m.

This seminar introduces students to ethical traditions in Asia and the West, and how to compare and integrate these traditions. It also offers an introduction to various ethical dimensions of East-West encounter, especially across the last century and with special attention paid to U.S.-Asia relations. We will begin by addressing various elements of moral philosophy in Aristotle, Kant, and Mill, and the ethics of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. The course will then investigate through film and philosophy the modern encounter between various Asian and Western peoples and the ethical orientations they brought to the bear in the battlefield, the halls of congress, courts of law, the home, the construction of identity, the transformation of culture, and other aspects of social life.

Core E - Social Sciences

COMS 195-01 Landscapes of Communication: Terrestrial and Digital

CRN # 40354
Marco Jacquemet
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 10:30–11:35 a.m.

Our experience of communication is shaped both by physical territory (buildings, streets, neighborhoods, transportation routes, cable and phones lines) and the virtual, digital world (computer networks, cellular phones, remote surveillance, zoom, social media). In this seminar, we will develop new ways of understanding the communicative field by exploring the use of urban space by various social groups (such as youth, migrants, and police), the interaction between sounds and the city, the networked nature of social interactions, and the central importance of mobile and cyber communication. We will work together to produce communicative maps of our city focusing on such phenomena as the soundscapes of a particular neighborhood, the security apparatus on campus, and city-specific digital social networks. This small seminar will include in-class discussion of readings and writing assignments based on fieldtrips within San Francisco.

ENVA 195-01 Golden Gate Park

CRN # 42463
David Silver
Tue. & Thu. 2:40–4:25 p.m.

This class considers Golden Gate Park as a lens and site to explore the environmental history of what we now call San Francisco. We begin by learning about different groups' relationships to Bay Area nature and natural resources, including native Ohlone people, Spanish missionaries, Mexican ranchers, and gold-hungry 49ers. Next, with research visits to Gleeson Library's Donohue Rare Book Room, San Francisco Public Library, and UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, we trace the development of Golden Gate Park and investigate key eras like the 1894 Midwinter Fair and WPA projects built in the 1930s. Having considered the past, we turn our attention to the present and future and examine contemporary uses of the park and develop ideas and initiatives that could make it more inclusive, diverse, and sustainable. Be ready for field trips. With the park literally two blocks from USF, we will explore as much of it as possible, from the panhandle to Ocean Beach, and take deep dives into the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum and Cafe, and the National AIDS Memorial Grove. If we're lucky, we may even spot a coyote or two.

INTD 195-01 Law and Order: San Francisco

CRN # 42218
Ed Lenert
Tues. 8:00-11:00 a.m. & Thu. 8:00–9:55 a.m.

Drawing on the famous TV series​ Law & Order ​as inspiration, this first-year seminar will focus on the criminal and civil justice systems and will feature carefully selected readings plus regular field trips to local state and federal courtrooms to attend arraignments, hearings, trials, and sentencing. A significant goal of the course is to help you discuss, analyze and write about social justice as practiced in our society and as depicted in movies and television. In addition, you will be exposed to a social science methodology and a language for describing the relationships between law and social justice. You will be given the opportunity to make first-hand observations about the criminal and civil justice systems, and speak to participants through informal meetings or guest lectures. Optionally, you may elect to participate in the SF Police Department’s Ride-Along program, where citizens accompany officers as they go about their daily operations.

POLS 195-01 Community Movements in San Francisco

CRN # 42393
James Tracy
Mon. & Wed., 4:45 – 6:25 p.m.


Core F - Visual and Performing Arts

ART 195-01 Sacred Art in the City

CRN # 40163
Nathan Dennis
Wed. 11:45 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.

This course examines the art and architecture of San Francisco’s diverse religious communities that have settled in the city over the last 150 years, including Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant), Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, and indigenous traditions that represent the multicultural heritage of the city’s native and immigrant populations. Students will visit San Francisco museums, galleries, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and historical centers throughout the semester to study how religious heritage has helped make San Francisco one of the most dynamic and culturally diverse cities in the world. Students will meet once a week for 3 hours and 40 minutes, which will enable the class to leave campus for site visits throughout San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.

ART 195-02 Art in Multicultural San Francisco

CRN # 40164
Jessica Snow
Fri. 11:45 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.

San Francisco is a global city in which you can find thriving art communities and cultural activities in every neighborhood. This class will provide you with an introduction to the city through the lens of the visual arts, and you will get a taste of the rich diversity and socially-engaged artwork to be found in the Bay Area’s arts venues. We will visit museums and other art sites throughout the semester; these field trips will provide you with first-hand knowledge of the vast array of exhibitions happening currently both in institutions and on the street.  In addition to seeing art firsthand, you’ll be keeping a sketchbook with weekly drawing assignments. Further engagement with the art experiences will happen through readings, discussions, and writing assignments.

ART 195-03 Exploring Asian Art in San Francisco

CRN # 40165
Jon Soriano
Wed. 11:45 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.

San Francisco has long been well known for its rich collections of Asian art, accessible at sites such as the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, the Asian Art Museum, and the streets of Chinatown.  This class provides an introduction to this art, and asks several questions about it:  How did all this art get here?  What relevance do these works have to the surrounding community?  What ideological and material factors are involved in owning and displaying this art?  We will explore Asian art in San Francisco through these questions and others by going on multiple site visits, looking closely at art, reading a range of texts, independent research, analysis, and group discussion. [Also meets Cultural Diversity or “CD” Core Requirement]

DANC 195-01 Dance in San Francisco

CRN # 40880
Megan Nicely
Tue. & Thu. 2:40–4:25 p.m.

San Francisco is home to one of the most vibrant and diverse dance communities in the country. Exploring the range of movement styles, dance artists, companies, and organizations at work in the Bay Area provides us with a unique opportunity to understand the vanguard of contemporary performance and the many historical and cultural threads that underlie these practices. By participating in a range of movement classes both on and off campus, attending performances, learning from guest artists, and engaging in both academic and creative movement activities, students will discover the ways dance both supports and challenges dominant cultural values, narratives, and ideals of its time. No prior dance experience is necessary.

MUS 195-01 Opera: Love, Death, & Intrigue

CRN # 40868
Pamela Kamatani
Tues. & Thu. 12:45–2:30 p.m.

Opera: where you can do anything so long as you sing it! This course explores the world of opera and the issues presented in (or hidden under) beautiful singing. We will learn about this often extravagant art form and what it says about the society in and for which it was created. We will deepen our discussion by attending three performances at the San Francisco Opera, one of the top three companies in the country. In class we will discuss the readings and bring the issues up to date through our own experiences, and we will study and view/listen to portions of operas from 1600s Italy to 21st century USA. No knowledge of music necessary, only curiosity, interest in challenging deep-seated assumptions, and openness to new ideas. Readiness to have fun a plus!

THTR 195-01 Performing Identity: Theater and Social Issues

CRN # 40902
Peter Novak
Tue. & Thu. 9:55–11:40 a.m.

San Francisco is home to performing artists who push the boundaries of identity, challenge political structures, and confront the social issues of greatest importance to our City, country, and world. This seminar will explore theater in many manifestations and from diverse communities—starting with gay rights and performance in the 1970s and moving to contemporary Latino performance in the Mission. We will attend performances throughout San Francisco and learn how theater can be a vehicle for social change. We will meet and talk with actors, drag queens, playwrights, and theater artists in this amazingly diverse City to see how and why they make art that matters.